Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Military Ramps up Recruitment of Poor

June 8, 2007

By Charlene Muhammad
Final Call

President George Bush’s recent veto of a bill that would provide for emergency spending and a withdrawal deadline from the Iraq war has heightened peace activists’ concerns that a prolonged stay would foster more aggressive military recruitment tactics in low income and communities of color, due to its drop in new recruits.

In 2005, the Department of Defense reported that the Army fell 25 percent short of its goal for 6,700 new enlistees, mostly derived from neighborhoods of low- to middle-median household incomes, according to the National Priorities Project’s (NNP) study of active-duty Army recruits by neighborhood income for 2004-2006. NNP focuses on the impact of federal spending and other policies at the national, state, congressional district and local levels.

Arlene Inouye, founder and coordinator for the Coalition Against Militarism in Schools (CAMS), believes that military recruitment is implemented in a variety of ways and targets everyone. However, she said that youth of color and working poor families tend to experience more recruitment because of economic and social factors.

Recruiters court youth through emails, schools and music television advertisements. According to NNP, the military’s recruiting budget tops $4 billion per year, and includes $1.5 billion for advertising and maintaining the recruiting stations. Enlistment bonuses (used to attract new recruits) in the active-duty Army alone amounted to $166 million, it informed.

Ms. Inouye told The Final Call that much of the advertising targets Latinos, because they are vulnerable and make up 75 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), among other things. She said that Belmont High School in central Los Angeles ranked as the 5th top school in the nation to recruit Latino youth in 2004. ...